Letter to the Editor: New law will help

Issue Date: October 17, 2012

Editor: I have experienced firsthand the effects of restricted "ex parte" communications between water board members and members of the community.

The job and responsibility of our water board members is too important to not allow for input and education from farmers, ranchers, business owners and families.

That is why I introduced a bill to remove these communication restrictions. Although my original bill ended up being held in committee, I partnered with Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, to author Senate Bill 965, which received overwhelming bipartisan support and has now been signed by Gov. Brown. This bill gives the agricultural community and community members a greater opportunity to talk with water board members.

More specifically, SB 965 establishes the guidelines upon which communications between board members and interested persons are deemed acceptable. Without this important piece of legislation, local governments, businesses and other stakeholders would be limited to just a few minutes of testimony before the board during a formal hearing.

I firmly believe that the best decisions are made with collaboration and education. Communication, transparency and due process are too critical to be ignored.

It is my hope that this bipartisan effort will not only ensure public participation in the state and regional water board regulatory process, but also ensure effective water policy.

Assemblymember Luis A. Alejo
28th District, Watsonville

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.